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Matthew Tubman

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since Jan 03, 2014
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Recent posts by Matthew Tubman

I hope you all don't mind me putting this in here. If there is a better place, then please let me know, but I thought it'd be of interest to some like minded people who want to grow food locally anywhere they might be. Today I came across the concept of growing food in shipping containers. These are climate controlled and fully regulated high tech rigs that retail off the shelf for 50-60K.

They claim to be able to do some amazing things. Check out the links below:

Does anyone have any experience with these? They make some amazing claims.

Apologies for being a bit off topic, but I thought it might interest some people here.


3 years ago

Terry Ruth wrote:I did with a hand tamper I got at Harbor Freight on some walls just to see what the worse case labor rate would be. It was back braking work. I could not find any air tapers to rent. I'll probably buy some next time I try it. It takes skill not only in building but designing the mix and getting those nice looking striations. I tried all kinds of mixes, earth oxides, learned I had too much rock and needed mostly sand and clay or different colors. I then did not have a strong enough clay so I tried portland cement, lime, fly ash, that changes the look I was after. I did outdoor and indoor on a house, the outdoor retaining wall fell apart since I did not seal the top right. I got all kinds of varing results some did not even make sense, and learned. It's an acquired skill in time, lots of practice. I don't know how those pro's do it in wet climates but some look great. I did the book cost estimate, did not work out for me, ended up with too much hauling back to the quarry. Logistics is another area, the cops did not like me dumping piles in the street by the curb a big clear lot is a must. The bob cat needs an open space too I did not have. I ended up hand carrying mixes into a house I was finishing a room doing some RE pony walls. What a mess and work.

Its a rehab I have on the market now you can see the pony walls here:

Not bad for a first, some like them some don't.

First of all Terry that house looks very nice, if I could buy that house and stick it on my land for that price I'd send you a check tomorrow!

Secondly you mentioned a book cost estimate- what was that?

I'll be building from scratch on a rural parcel of land so I don't have to worry about some of the issues you faced.

4 years ago

Mike Cantrell wrote:

Matthew Tubman wrote:
I was thinking around 1500 sqft. 3-4 bedroom.

If i recall correctly, you're going to be at a similar price to stick framing. For something that size, you're going to want power equipment: a Bobcat to move piles of dirt around, a pneumatic tamper, and the monster air compressor that the tamper needs.

Remember that when rammed earth is a vernacular architecture, 3-4 bedrooms serve 6-10 people. Doing a big house like that by hand, it happens everywhere, but it happens with 12 people, not 1 plus a couple of part-time employees.

Our 21st-c-American appetite for square footage CAN be adapted to traditional architecture. But it requires adaptation. 1-4 people can build a 12-person project... with power equipment.

Good point. It does seem fairly labor intensive. I was planning on renting the necessary power equipment of course, the tampers, bobcats etc. It seems that assuming you have the right soil the real expense will be labor. I still want to do RE if I can, but I am skeptical if it can be done on a budget.
4 years ago
I'm looking for some rough estimates of how much it would cost me to build a Rammed Earth (RE) house. I would be building the house myself but I would probably need help with it. I don't mean a huge crew charging big bucks, but maybe a couple of laborers and one person who could at least come around when needed to give guidance. Most of the RE portfolios I can find on the internet are geared to the luxury market. Maybe the luxury market customers feel bad about all the co2 their lear jets are producing and try to make up for it with RE homes, hah.

I was thinking around 1500 sqft. 3-4 bedroom. Where do I even start pricing this? Can this be cheaper than stick construction? I'm feeling pretty lost here as like I said, I haven't been able to find much RE geared to the budget market.

4 years ago
Hi everyone, thanks for your posts. I can see it is much more complicated than I had imagined. Right now I live in England and my garage is an old stone barn. It is roughly the average of high and low temps, every day, in there. Always warmer than the low temp and lower than the high. I figured that this was a general principle. I am really interested in using Rammed Earth to build my dream home when I return home, but I was told by a local architect (I'm really lucky to have a licensed natural building architect in my area back home) that cob and RE are poor choices due to their low insulative value... but I only see cob and RE used traditionally in hot climates so I'm not sure what she is talking about or why low insulation would be a deal breaker.
4 years ago
Hello all, AFAIK, high thermal mass just means the interior of the structure will be generally the average of the high + low temperature / 2. Meaning if the daily high is 90 degrees, and the low 75 (SC Low Country in the summer), and we use a building technique with high thermal mass like Cob, Earthbag, or Rammed Earth, we can figure the inside temperature will be 82.5 degrees. Is this an accurate way to estimate what a structure will be like on the inside?

4 years ago
I'm trying to get information on how to legally build an earthbag residence in South Carolina but I can't find anything. Via google I read about a lady who is based out of Charleston who is a licensed architect and has a website but it hasn't been updated in at least 6 months and I didn't get a reply to my email. So, who knows what happened. I just thought I'd include that b/c it does come up and I didn't want people to think I haven't tried researching the topic myself.

If anyone could please point me in the right direction, I would appreciate it.


5 years ago
Hello, I am new here and I have to say I am really enjoying reading these forums. What a site!

I live on the SC/GA border near Augusta and we are very blessed with some great Georgia Clay and of course, the everpresent Georgia Pine. I think it would be great to incorporate both pine and clay into a hybrid timber frame/cob infill house. The only problem is, I can find a lot of info on timber framing, and a lot on pure cob construction, but not so much on this combo. I've heard it mentioned here and there, but I can't find any detailed information.

There's a couple reasons why I'd prefer to use timber frame with cob infill, and the main reason is inspection/code. Timber frame houses have precident and as long as the cob is "insulation" it's going to be a lot easier to get it okay'd by daddy government (or at least that is what I have been told on the internet). Secondly, I just like the exposed timber look and like I said, we got a lot of pine trees so I think it'd be a nice touch.

If anyone could point me in the right direction, I'd appreciate it.


6 years ago